Zavagnin would have been a safer choice, although not necessarily the better one. Will Paunovic work as Major League Soccer rounds itself into MLS 3.0? It’s not a strong position to take as an analyst, but the most honest answer is, “We’ll see.” We barely know what MLS will look like in 2016, much less what it will look like as a 24-team league by 2018 or thereabouts.
I mean, the Galaxy or the Sounders might find a couple more star-men that they really, really want over the next couple of years – which means the league is likely to invent new rules to see that it happens. Seriously, the league’s salary structure and acquisition devices remain a work in progress. So do the primary club targets. If US Open Cup and CONCANCAF Champions League become more attractive objects of desire, it may alter the way clubs divvy up the roster dough. Either way, club approach will vary.
Teams like Dallas and Vancouver are demonstrating that building inexpensively around youth is a viable alternative. New York and Columbus, the Eastern Conference teams still alive, are built on the cheap, too, although the MOs around Mapfre Stadium and Red Bull Arena look a little different, a more assorted mix of young and old.
Marsch and Berhalter certainly look like great coaching fits. But maybe they wouldn’t be the best choices for Yankee Stadium, where managing big ego and big politics from City Football Group make that job a different jar of pickles altogether. Just ask Kreis.
Maybe Berhalter or Marsch would be miscast at clubs where youngsters will need patient, almost fatherly tutelage. Perhaps Pareja wouldn’t work at Toronto, another address where high-dollar figures will continue to be a heavy weapon. We don’t know.
Some clubs are going to demand bottom line success. That makes a guy like Dominic Kinnear, an old school 4-4-2 guy whose teams achieve through locker room accountability and blue collar ethos, a solid choice. Ben Olsen, who looks safe at D.C. United despite an apparent plateau, has a team of grinders that look a lot like 11 Ben Olsens from back in the day.
But the owner or club decider who demands a more stylistic approach – think Portland Timbers or Sporting Kansas City – may need a coach of different stripes.
Perhaps the point is this: Increasingly in MLS there is room for diversity of approach. That goes for playing style, for personnel acquisition and development and for managerial design. It looks that way in 20-team MLS, so it stands to reason that a 24-team MLS will accommodate similar diversity, if not even more.